Food, Inside Story

Joe McCanta from Grey Goose on Melbourne Bar/Dining Scene

Joe McCanta the Global Brand Ambassaor Grey Goose made a huge impression when in Melbourne recently, hosting the taste By Appointment events (we were at Saint Crispin) that were legendary. As the man behind the legendary French vodka we were keen to hear his thoughts on dining and bar scene in Melbourne and abroad...

TWLM: What is your favourite destination in the world for eating and drinking? Why?

Joe: That would have to be France - the French understand food and flavours like no other. There is an unrivalled attention to detail and savoir-faire that is evident in all of their food and drink. Some of the most amazing meals I’ve ever eaten were from simple street vans in Paris or from artisanal restaurants in Beaune, in the heart of Burgundy.

In saying that, I’ve also had some spectacular meals and cocktails in Melbourne recently, so I would have to include this city as one of my favourites too.  I had an unbelievable meal at Saint Crispin. 

TWLM: What are your top three favourite bars in the world, and what do you think makes a good bar?

Joe: Let me start with what makes a good bar – for me, it’s a combination of two factors. Firstly, you need to consider the service and hospitality. A good bar creates a sense of escapism - a world where people can relax and feel entirely cared for by the staff and the bartenders. Secondly, good bars need to use, and have an appreciation for, the best of the best ingredients. The bartenders should know where their spirits / ingredients come from, how they’re made, and most importantly, how they should be served.

My top three bars at the moment are:

  • -          Artesian at The Langham hotel in London. These guys make you feel like a million bucks every time you walk in the door.
  • -          Haberstadt, Vienna. This is a wild card entry for me. The bar is very small – no more than 15 people – and is located underneath train tracks. The same operator has been running the venue since it opened 30 years ago, so there’s a sense of tradition in everything they do.
  • -          Melbourne’s 1806 and Black Pearl! I truly feel Melbourne is redefining what the best bars in the world are all about. There are too many great bars to mention, but both 1806 and Black Pearl were highlights on my recent trip to Melbourne – the cocktails were incredible.


TWLM: What is your most memorable drink – a particular cocktail, rare spirit? What was the occasion?

Joe: One of my most memorable drinks was a cocktail made for me in Cognac by the creator of Grey Goose, our maître de chai, Francois Thibault. It was a beautiful, simple twist on a martini containing a dash of ‘Suze’, which is a bitter French aperitif, and finished with a grapefruit twist.

TWLM: What is your go-to drink?

Joe: A classic vodka Martini served with an oyster – preferably a NSW oyster. I have recently eaten the best oysters of my life in Australia, and they pair brilliantly with a Grey Goose Martini.

TWLM: What are your thoughts on the Melbourne drinks and dining scene?

Joe: Melbourne is, by far, one of the most inspiring gastronomic meccas in the world right now. The food is phenomenal – everyone seems to be pushing the boundaries, both on the dining and bar scene. Your bartenders are world class. Oh, and your coffee is the best in the world. Melbourne ticks every box. 

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